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A Visit to the Tokens and Icons Trade Show Booth

For all photos, click to enlarge

Earlier this week, on Tuesday afternoon, I went to the Javits Convention Center, where the bi-annual New York International Gift Fair was taking place. One of our advertisers, Tokens & Icons, had a booth at the show, and I wanted to meet their founder, Ward Wallau (that’s him on the right in the photo shown above) and his right-hand man, Milan Micich.

Ward and Milan are interesting guys. Before they agreed to advertise on Uni Watch, they spent a lot of time on the phone with me so we could get to know each other and get a feel for each other’s goals. And once they started advertising, they kept in touch with me on a pretty regular basis. I’ve never had an advertiser take such a communicative approach with me before — it’s really nice. That’s why I wanted to meet them.

I don’t want this entry to turn into a big promo for Tokens & Icons’ products. I’m not even going to be linking to their website in this entry. But I want to talk about them because I really admire their creative approach, which I think is really cool. If you’ll give me a minute to explain, I think you’ll agree.

As you all know, I love DIY projects, and Tokens & Icons is like a big DIY laboratory. They take the components of various sporting goods (jerseys, balls, bats, stadium seating, etc.), deconstruct them, and then repurpose them into cool stuff. And their Gift Fair booth had some really interesting displays that emphasized that approach.

For example, I knew that T&I made cool gift items featuring the wood from game-used MLB bats. But how many pieces do they get out of a single bat? Nineteen, as it turns out, as shown by this David Ortiz gamer that they had on display at their booth:

The bat pieces are then used to make things like bottle openers, like the ones shown in this display (if you click to see the larger image, you’ll see that some of the bottle opener handles were taken from hockey sticks, basketball court floors, and even football stadium goalposts):

T&I also makes wallets with pieces of game-used jerseys serving the lining. Their booth had a display with NFL, MLB, and NHL examples:

But the coolest thing about T&I is what they do with game-used baseballs. From a single ball, they can make cufflinks, a wristwatch, a money clip, earrings, a bottle opener, a necklace, and a knit hat:

The hat is particularly cool. As you know, a baseball is full of yarn. As it turns out, there are several different layers of yarn, in two different colors. T&I got the idea of using that yard to make knit caps — “baseball caps”! And because each game-used ball is MLB-authenticated with its own unique hologram number, each hat comes with a note spelling out when, where, and how the ball was used. Check it out:

Just to be clear: T&I didn’t pay anything extra for this entry, they didn’t give me any freebies at the Gift Fair, they didn’t take me out for dinner — nothing like that. I’m not trying to get you to buy any of their stuff (all of which, I’d be the first to admit, is pretty expensive). But I really like and respect their creative approach, and I love the knit hat. I look forward to seeing Ward and Milan again when they come back for the next Gift Fair in August.

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Friday Flashback: It’s been a while since I’ve done one of my Friday Flashback pieces over at ESPN. But with the Winter Olympics kicking into full gear today, I have a piece that looks back at notable moments in Winter Games uniform history (including the American snowboarding team’s faux-flannel and -denim look from 2010, shown above). Check it out here.

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Mystery man of multiple numbers: Reader Christopher, who didn’t give his last name, was watching the recent 30-for-30 production The Two Bills and noticed something bizarre. During a snippet of footage from the 1990 NFC Championship Game (Giants/49ers), the Giants had someone on the sideline wearing No. 6 on his chest but No. 2 on his sleeve:

I watched the video segment that this was taken from and can assure you that it’s just one person (i.e., it’s not an illusion created by two guys standing next to each other or anything like that).

So who was this player? The Giants’ roster that season included backup quarterback Matt Cavanaugh, who wore No. 6. He actually got into that game after starter Jeff Hostetler was shaken up at one point:

Obviously, his jersey numbers look fine in that shot. Looking again at the original screen shot from the sidelines, maybe the TV number is a backwards 6..? Hmmmmm.

Kicker Raul Allegre wore No. 2 that season, but he had been replaced by Matt Bahr by the time of the NFC title game. I found a few shots of Allegre without a helmet (look here, here, and here), but it’s tough to say if that’s the same guy on the sidelines in the No. 6/2 jersey.

Hmmmm. Anyone have any ideas about this one?

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Naming Wrongs update: After we recently launched our shirts for the L.A. Coliseum in Rams and Trojans colors, we had several requests to render the design in silver and black. Ask and ye shall receive (click to enlarge):

All of these designs are now available in the Naming Wrongs shop. They’re also cross-listed in the Uni Watch shop, where card-carrying members can get 15% off. (If you’re a member and need the discount code, send me a note and I’ll hook you up.) My thanks, as always, for your consideration.

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The Ticker
By Kris Gross

Baseball News: The Tigers and Royals will wear throwback Negro League uniforms on May 6. … … In honor of the movie Coming to America’s 30th anniversary, the Fresno Grizzlies will take the field as the Zamunda Lions on June 21. … The Gary ShouthShore RailCats will have The Office nights 10 times this season. … Anyone interested in buying the head of the San Diego Chicken? (from @theauthenticEli.) … Florida State will be unveiling new uniform combos over the next eight days, starting with a garnet jersey (from Ryan Kelly). … New alternate uniforms for the Chiba Lotte Marines (from Max G).

NFL News: At yesterday’s Eagles championship parade, Philadelphia mayor Jim Kenney wore a 2004 Brian Dawkins jersey, complete with Linc patch (from Blake Fox). … @SportsPSD mocked up what an Eagles uniform would look like if they added gold trim like MLB championship teams do. … An Eagles fan has agreed to pay for the Super Bowl seat he stole (from Kary Klismet).

College Football News: Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt said they will not be wearing the “smoky greys” while he’s coach (from Dwight Ternes). … Georgetown shared pictures of their team from 130 years ago. … Is it disrespectful for recruits to throw other school hats on the floor when making their commitments? (From Kary Klismet.)

Hockey News: The Canucks will honor Larry Kwong and wear Year of the Dog warmups next week (from Brock Jackson). … Tampa Bay police wore NHL-branded badges during All-Star weekend (from Josh Frank).

NBA News: Newly signed C Greg Monroe will wear No. 55 for the Celtics. As Mike Chamernik points out, his previous numbers (10, 14, and 15) have all been retired by Boston. … Peter Hartlaub came across photos from a 1962 Pistons/Warriors game that appears to show a Detroit player wearing warmups during the game!

College Hoops News: Duquesne will wear black and gold uniforms as a tribute to the city of Pittsburgh (from Ben Mitchell). … Nice color-on-color matchup between Nevada and UNLV on Wednesday night (from Brett Thomas). … Utah will honor Jon M. Huntsman, a major donor to the school who passed away last week, with a jersey patch (from Benji King). … We somehow missed this earlier in the week, but Auburn G Bryce Brown was playing defense while holding his teammate’s wayward shoe (from @tedchastain). … Not that Auburn, but Auburn High School in Nebraska uses Arizona’s logo (from Brett Baker).

Olympics News: Check out these Día de los Muertos uniforms for Mexico’s alpine ski team (thanks Phil). … US Speedskaters worked with Under Armour to redesign suits for these Olympics (from Tommy Turner). … Speedskater Shani Davis is upset that the USOC used a coin toss to determine who would be the American flag bearer (from Kary Klismet). … The latest in Olympic retailing: You can get yourself an official Team USA garment bag.

Grab Bag: Perry Hall High School in Maryland has new Alumni Tribute lacrosse uniforms. … Here’s a fascinating video on the creation of the biohazard and radiation symbols, and how to make sure they keep their relevance (from Drew). … Hendrick Motorsports pit crews get merit decals (from Aaron Reed). … Golf belt maker J.T. Spencer will now create club head covers (from Tommy Turner).

Comments (61)

    That hat made from a baseball is a stroke of genius, and also looks great! Thanks for finding that Paul. I might have to get one of those.

    The hat is a very cool idea, but not $225 cool. I’d still have difficulty pulling the trigger if it was $50.

    Yeah, those guys are full of it. I would buy one of those “baseball hats” if it was $15 or less…but $225? Forget about it!

    In the Grab Bag article on Perry Hall lacrosse, “Alumni” is misspelled as “Alumi.”

    “…their founder, Ward Wallau (that’s him on the right in the photo shown above) and his right-hand man, Milan Micich.” I see what you did there.

    Also: Perry Hall High School in Maryland has new ALUMNI Tribute lacrosse uniforms.

    RE: the ticker item on recruits throwing hats on the floor on signing day. I think we can all agree signing day itself is disrespectful to just about every aspect of youth sports. Between stunts like these, AAU, and websites like rivals we’ve turned youth sports into a hotbed for the cash cow that is modern professional sports and big time college programs. Youth sports are supposed to be about fun, learning teamwork and sportsmanship. I can’t imagine a grown adult scouting out 12 year old kids playing sports, what kind of life is that?

    The irony of one of those mentioned being a Nebraska recruit, is that his new head coach, Scott Frost, is not about flashy recruiting. I have a feeling Frost spent zero time worrying about how Caleb Tannor announced he was coming to Lincoln.

    Frost was quoted in early December, saying, “This signing day gets over-hyped, and I am never going to be the one that does the over-hyping… You are not going to see our staff jumping around in the coaching staff room every time we get a National Letter of Intent. I just don’t think that’s honest.”

    From his professional demeanor, it is pretty clear Frost likely will try to tamp down this part of the Nebraska fan/media culture. Thank goodness. That said, it will be interesting to see how Frost leads/reacts when, in the years to come, parts of the Husker fan base so readily lap up the hype, pomp, and circumstance.

    Recruiting aside, Frost’s overall approach is in many ways strong but understated, reflective of the state’s culture. I expect Tannor will learn that very quickly in a Frost-led locker room.

    I think the frame was flipped (the Giants wordmark on Cavanaugh’s helmet is backwards) and the frontwards 6 digitally inserted. They just forgot to do the TV number.

    Joel is right about the frame being flipped. Looks like they blurred the word Giants from Parcells’ sweater, which should look like this.


    Also, Allegre was replaced by Bahr after the third regular season game. Doubtful that the Giants dressed two kickers versus the 49ers — a day Bahr kicked five FGs.

    Had the same thought. Notice the yellow wristband on the left wrist in the screengrab and when he is in the game it is on the right wrist.

    I noticed that too. Note also that Cavanaugh, who is right-handed, appears to be holding the helmet in his left hand and have the towel hanging from his left hip.

    To me, it looks like that entire Giants photo is odd. It almost looks like the photo was flipped and then they just fixed the chest number and left everything else messed up. Looking at other photos from the game, everyone wears the yellow sweatband on their left arm. The first photo shows it on his right arm, but the shot from the game it’s on his left. The text on his helmet is basically illegible but it looks odd as well. But since this came from a video, that explanation doesn’t really make sense.

    It’s one of those odd things that documentary filmmakers do all the time because aesthetics are more important to them than the scene being accurate.

    Just piling on now, but note that Parcells headset is on the wrong side in the video still (as compared to this pic).


    This image of Cavanaugh with the 49ers leads me to believe it is Cavanaugh (and not Allegre) in the Gants sideline photo.


    Re: Matt Cavanaugh’s 6/2…
    Clearly, the left sleeve number is a 6. My guess is that with heat-pressed numbers, the wrinkle of the fabric (looser sleeves in 1990, especially on WBs) caused an abnormal reflection on the left vertical bar of the block 6. The number’s right side is obscured by the way Cavanaugh is positioned in the picture relative to the camera. The upper right portion of the “2” is filled in by the player behind Cavanaugh in the picture.

    I was going to go with something along these lines. Maybe some kind of glare from the sun onto the camera lens caused what is clearly an optical illusion of sorts.

    I noticed another Eagles player in the parade wearing a throwback Eagles jersey (a la Jaworski days). I figure since they’re in the hometown of Mitchell & Ness that the throwbacks are pretty easy to come by!

    If the Gift Fair takes place in February and August, wouldn’t that make it semi-annual rather than bi-annual?

    I totally want to buy that Dan Diego Chicken head and mount it on a plaque.

    “I’m not even going to be linking to their website in this entry.”

    No need–there’s a nice ad on the side of the page. The opposite ad advertises 25% off mini-helmets. Seems a bit unfair to the people who bought them when they were first available, no?

    The opposite ad advertises 25% off mini-helmets. Seems a bit unfair to the people who bought them when they were first available, no?

    No. Unless you think that every single sale or discount in the history of ever has been similarly “unfair.” In which case, please explain, preferably in great detail. Thanks.

    I assume that you had the helmets made so that your readers could get a neat item, not to make a profit. I also imagine that some of the earliest buyers were some of your most consistent readers. Maybe they should wait to buy next time. Sure, there may be economically sound reasons to change prices (up or down), but there are plenty of reasons not to (I hear George Constanza shouting “we’re trying to live in a society!” in my head.) See Amazon and Uber, two entities with much less of a sense of community than this one.

    I assume that you had the helmets made so that your readers could get a neat item, not to make a profit.

    Those two things are not mutually exclusive. There was a small profit on each helmet, which I split with Rocker T Collectibles. Sales had pretty much stopped, but Rocker T still had some inventory left, so we lowered the price (and will now split an even smaller profit). If you honestly think that’s screwing anyone — or that it is somehow eroding “society” — well, you’re entitled to that thought. I respectfully disagree.

    Patrick, if you personally bought a helmet at full price and feel that I’ve screwed you, please contact me privately (plukas64 at gmail) and we can discuss whether I should give you a retroactive discount. I promise that I’ll give the idea all the consideration it deserves.

    I’ll stand up for Paul on this one. If somebody bought an item at a given price, it was worth it to them at the time and nobody should assume that the price of the item will never change in the future.

    And it’s really not your concern if he’s selling items to make a profit or for charity…I mean, Paul obviously puts a lot of work into this site and he does not charge us to read it, and there are expenses associated with running a website, in addition to the fact he needs to pay the rent and put food on the table.

    The mayor was wearing a 2003 jersey. More importantly, Jason Peters was wearing a late 90’s Dawkins jersey.

    “I focus on what the players wear, not what’s for sale”

    lol jkjk – I saw this stuff in person at the Javits and it is pretty cool. I’d never buy it – it’s just not my style – but hey at least they’re offering something unique. I’m sure it’d make a great gift.

    But that’s what’s so cool about T&I — they take *what the players wear* and repurpose it! It’s not just merch; it’s merch based on real game-used uniforms and equipment! So much more creative and imaginative than the usual retail slop.

    The Eagles fan who stole the seat actually got quite a bargain. I suspect he could get considerably more than $125 for an authentic Eagles Super Bowl stadium artifact like that one. I feel like the stadium authority probably should have pressed charges if not for nothing else than to deter future incidents. The theft of a $125 item would likely fall into the category of a “minor misdemeanor” or whatever term they use in Minnesota. The fan would get a fine and probably be asked to pay restitution. That said, the authorities would never extradite the fan if he ignored the summons and went home. (I’m assuming he was flying home to PA. or N.J.) It’s truly a minor violation. It’d be likely that if the fan failed to respond to the summons, authorities would issue a warrant and there it would remain on the books in perpetuity or until the fan ever tried returning to Minnesota.

    You clearly never unwound one when you were a kid to see how it was made. Wikipedia says there’s up to a mile of yarn in a ball.

    Love the link to the Perry Hall lacrosse uniforms. I played their in the 60’s.

    Hendrick Motorsports may award merit decals for their pit crews, but they might only appear (or be allowed to appear?)on practice helmets.
    It’s possible that NASCAR has a section about pit crew uniform standards in their rule book, but access to that document is heavily restricted.

    Also, to aid with the enforcement of new pit crew rules for 2018, members will wear patches, numbers (unsure if they will be team/sanctioning body assigned or chosen by the individual) along with NOB (already present on the fire suit) to help NASCAR officials better identify them.

    I also noticed a player wearing what appeared to be a warm-up during a game in footage from around the same period in the 30 for 30 doc about the Celtics/Lakers rivalry.

    Say what you will about mascots, the San Diego chicken head is classic, as opposed to being coyingly sweet which most mascots are, there’s a “I don’t give a flying fadoo” look of mischief about the Chicken, who at times came close to being an R rated mascot.

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